Crime and Poverty: Evidence From a Natural Experiment
This paper investigates the relationship between poverty and crime. Following a disputed presidential election, fuel supply to the highlands of Madagascar was severely curtailed in early 2002, resulting in a massive if temporary increase in poverty. Using original survey data collected in June 2002 at the height f the crisis, we find that crime increase with poverty. Our most conclusive results are for crop theft. We also find that an increase in law enforcement personnel reduces cattle theft which, in Madagascar, is a form of organised crime. Theft appears to be used by some of the rural poor as a risk coping strategy. Increased transport costs led to a rise in a cattle and crop theft, suggesting that isolation raises crime.
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